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From the Co-op with love.. the days Sir Sean earned £1 a week

AS a member of the Hollywood elite, he can command millions of pounds for each role.

But, as newly uncovered documents show, the young Sean Connery had somewhat humbler beginnings - scraping by on just over 1 a week.

Details of Sir Sean's first job as an Edinburgh milkman were revealed after his employment record was discovered as Scotmid closed its 130-year old headquarters in Fountainbridge.

Staff found the record alongside hundreds of historic ledgers and photographs dating back to the 1880s as they prepared to move to a new office in Ratho Park. The new office, on the site of another co-operative, Hillwood, which merged into the Scotmid group in 1966, opens today.

Scotmid was formed in 1981 when the St Cuthbert's and Dalziel co-operatives merged. Connery began work for the company, which opened its Fountainbridge HQ on Christmas Day 1880, on July 20, 1944, at 14.

The record for "Thomas S Connery", which shows his starting salary of 21 shillings a week (1.05), known then as a guinea, was discovered in one of three huge safes at the office. It also detailed his official job title as Corstorphine Dairy barrow worker.

The document shows that Connery left the company in 1948 to join "HM Forces" - the Navy - by which time he had graduated from barrow worker to dairy transport worker and junior horseman. Connery rejoined the co-op less than a year later as a "horseman", but left again in January 1950.

"I had no idea it was there," said co-operative president Hollis Smallman, who has worked for Scotmid since 1958.

"It was one of hundreds of index cards holding details on workers going back to the 1930s and 40s. It's fascinating - we found out that he'd started as a barrow pusher, then graduated to a horseman by the time he left.

"We also uncovered ledgers of compensation claims made to the company in the early 1900s in cases such as if someone slipped and fell at work - that's not something you would have expected to happen so much in those days, but it did.

"The safes are each about the size of a living room - there was a huge amount of stuff in there. There are hundreds of pictures of old shops, with people standing outside, and some old bronze photographic plates, which we'll try to get prints from."

The National Library of Scotland has taken Scotmid's finds to archive them. David McClay, its curator of manuscripts, said the uncovered documents had doubled the amount of Scotmid archives held at the library.

"It covers the full history of the Scotmid and its predecessors from the 1880s," he said. "It will be of great interest to people wanting to research former workers or the history of the co-operative.

"The photographs are probably the most exciting find, aside from the Connery card. They show staff outings and people enjoying themselves. Although essentially a company, they do show how important a part the co-operative played in the community."

The Fountainbridge building nearly bankrupted the firm when it was built at a cost of 11,200 in 1880. Now the site is believed to be worth around 6 million.

Chief executive John Brodie added: "It has a lot of history and we'll be sad to leave, but it just isn't suitable as a modern office."

 
 
 

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